London: Premier League club Manchester City have been barred from competing in European club soccer competitions for the next two seasons and fined 30 million euros ($32.5 million) by European soccer’s governing body UEFA after being found guilty of “serious breaches” of its financial fair play rules.
In a statement confirming the decision on Friday, UEFA said: “having considered all the evidence, Manchester City Football Club committed serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.”
UEFA also accused the club of refusing to cooperate in the investigation.
“The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club, directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (i.e. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons) and pay a fine of 30 million euros,” the governing body said.
If upheld on appeal, the ruling would ban City from competing in either the Champions League or Europe’s second-tier club competition, the Europa League, until 2022-2023.
Manchester City, however, may appeal the decision to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“If Manchester City Football Club exercises that right, the full reasoned decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber will not be published prior to publication of the final award by the CAS,” UEFA said.
The Premier League club responded to UEFA’s decision and in a statement said it was “disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement.”
“The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position,” Man City said.
“In December 2018, the UEFA Chief Investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City, before any investigation had even begun. The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver,” the club said.
“The club has formally complained to the UEFA Disciplinary body, a complaint which was validated by a CAS ruling,” Man City said. “Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA.”
“With this prejudicial process now over, the club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity,” it added.
UEFA’s decision has no bearing on Manchester City’s 2019-2020 season, with the club set to take on Real Madrid next week in the first leg of their round of 16 clash in the Champions League.
UEFA had launched an investigation after German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 alleging Man City had inflated the value of a sponsorship deal, misleading European football’s governing body.
According to reports, it was alleged that City — who have always denied wrongdoing — deliberately misled UEFA so they could meet the FFP rules requiring clubs to break even.
City were fined 49 million euros in 2014 for a previous breach of regulations.